The Gloucester Rugby players named in England's Under 20 Elite Player squad learned yesterday that they will be taking on the host nation Argentina as well as France and Ireland in the pool stages of next summer's IRB Junior World Championship.
England, coached by Mark Mapletoft, have reached the tournament's two previous finals and go to South America in June 2009 looking to claim a first title global title.
They are based in Rosario for the three pool games, starting against the host nation on Saturday, June 5. They take on Ireland on June 9 and fifth seeds France on June 13. The fourth round and finals day are on June 17 and 21.
This year England beat Japan 43-0, Scotland 30-7, Samoa 52-7 and South Africa 40-21 in Tokyo before losing 44-28 to New Zealand in the JWC final.
"Playing the host nation Argentina in the opening game next summer will be a great occasion," said Mapletoft, who won his only England cap in Buenos Aires in 1997.
"We had that experience against Japan this year in Tokyo when the atmosphere was brilliant and the welcome we got made it extra special.
"Argentina are now a major nation on the world stage at senior level and that will filter down to their Under 20 side.
"The other games will be intriguing as we'll already have faced Ireland and France. By the end of the RBS Under 20 Six Nations in March we'll have a clear idea of our chances of progressing through the group stages in Argentina."
Next year's tournament is in a new 12-team format with the three pool winners and the best-ranked runner-up playing in the tournament semi finals on June 17 in Rosario, where the final and bronze medal matches will be staged on June 21.
England start their preparations for the campaign with two days at Twickenham this month and training camps in December and January before kicking off the Six Nations against Wales on February 5.
Mapletoft can call on 16 players capped at Under 20 level last season, including seven who took part in the JWC in Tokyo
IRB Junior World Championship pools
Pool A (Santa Fe, Parana): New Zealand, Wales, Samoa, Fiji
Pool B (Rosario): England, France, Ireland, Argentina
Pool C (Santa Fe, Parana): South Africa, Australia, Scotland, Tonga
England Under 20 Elite Player Squad
Joe Marler (Harlequins)**, Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks), Jamie George (Saracens)**, Arthur Ellis (London Wasps)*, Shaun Knight (Gloucester Rugby)**, Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Calum Green (Leicester Tigers), Danny Wright (Gloucester Rugby)*, James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)**, Peter Elder (London Wasps)*, Jamie Gibson (London Irish)*, Joe Trayfoot (Harlequins), Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie)*, Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons), Jackson Wray (Saracens)
Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers)*, Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester Rugby)*, Sam Stuart (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)*, Rory Clegg (Harlequins)**, Jake Sharp (Saracens), Tom Catterick (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Casson (Saracens)*, Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Sam Smith (Harlequins), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marcus Watson (London Irish), Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers)**, Tom Homer (London Irish)**, Jack Wallace (London Wasps)
**2009 Junior World Cup squad
*Capped in the 2009 RBS U20 Six Nations
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.